Greetings, Guardians, here's part eighteen of The Journey Home! Here[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Clan/Post/1371758/226181268/0/0]'s part seventeen[/url] if you missed it, or, if you're looking for a different part, here's the[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/222615264?showBanned=0&path=0] table of contents![/url] Also, I have a challenge for you guys; I want to see if any of you can guess what fictional character Erling is based off of. But even if you can't figure it out, stay classy, Guardian!
The villagers continued their trek through the wilderness for a full week. The journey was hard, many of the villagers - Alesha included - soon developed blisters on their feet. A few of the villagers knew some herbal remedies, but the journey was simply too arduous.
“Let’s pray that no one gets sick,” Beatrice said. “I can’t imagine we’d be able to go on if we had to carry people with us.”
“It’s a miracle that it hasn’t happened already,” Tom said, “the blisters are bad enough as it is.”
Alesha winced as her raw flesh rubbed against the soles of her shoes. They had never been the best quality - just some flaps of hardened leather sown together - but her soles were beginning to wear thin, and the seams were beginning to come undone. Walking with shoes was hard enough - she couldn’t imagine walking without them.
Suddenly, a large object fell from the trees above, and nearly landed on her head. She stopped, and looked down. She picked up the object. It was bright red, spherical, and -
Alesha grinned. “Apples!” she shouted excitedly.
Sure enough, the tree before her was an apple tree, its branches ripe with fruit. She looked further into the forest, and saw that there was practically a whole forest of the trees laid out before them. They'd had a small apple grove in the village, but many of the fruits had only just been starting to redden when they’d left, forcing them to rely on dried fruits from last year’s harvest. Now, these apples were ready to drop from the branches - and some of them were.
Erling walked up to them. He smiled. “Well, how about that?” he said. He turned towards Oren. “We’ll stop here - I imagine your people want some fresh food.”
Oren eyed the grove hungrily. “That we do,” he said.
The villagers marched into the grove. Many of the fruits hung out of reach, so the villagers simply collected the ones that had fallen to the forest floor. “How are there so many in one place?” Beatrice asked.
They got their answer a moment later.
Metal poles poked out of the ground, rusting in the open air. Large machines, some of which looked like a version of Gustav’s vehicle, were scattered throughout the forest. In some, grinning skeletons still remained. In the distance, an old building poked its way through the treetops.
It was a sobering sight for the villagers.
“What was this place?” Tom wondered aloud.
“Probably an old orchard, back during the Golden Age,” Erling said. “I imagine that, once it was abandoned, the trees simply went wild, and overtook the surrounding forest.”
Oren looked at the apples. He picked one up. “Hasn’t even started rotting yet,” he said.
“One of the wonders of the Golden Age,” Erling replied. “The ancestors of these trees were probably modified so that the fruit lasts longer without preservatives - I imagine that these trees have much the same function.”
Oren took a bite out of the fruit. He closed his eyes, savoring the taste. “I never thought I’d miss the state of fresh fruit so much.”
Erling gave a smile. “I know what you mean, Oren,” he said. He looked around. “It’s getting late,” he said. “We’ll stop here for the night - I imagine we’ll find shelter in that building over their.” He nodded towards the ruins in the distance. “Besides, we can use the extra daylight to pick some of the fruit.”
Oren nodded. “Sounds good to me,” he said. “We could use the rest - and the extra food.”
The ruins turned out to not be much more than a few giant storage sheds. Rusted machinery was everywhere, but at least the walls still provided some shelter from the elements. As the sunlight dwindled, the villagers scoured the orchard, grabbing any apples that the could reach. Someone found some old bins lying around, and the villagers filled them with their spoils. Soon, they had enough fruit to last them several days.
Alesha spent most of the day talking with Michael. His leg had been giving him a lot of trouble. Trisha, one of the villagers who knew a thing or two about healing, came over to him. “I can’t imagine that all this walking has helped speed up the healing,” she said, removing the bandages. “Rest - that’s what the true cure is for everything. Your body needs time to recover. If you keep pushing it, you’ll - oh dear.”
Alesha looked down at Michael’s leg, and nearly gagged. The wound had turned a festering shade of yellow, and vile fluids leaked from the dead flesh. His veins were purple, pulsating beneath the skin.
“Is it bad?” Michael asked.
“It’s fine,” Trisha said. “You. . . just need. . . some fresh bandages. That’s all.”
Michael looked up at Alesha. “Is it bad?” he asked.
Alesha couldn’t bear to look at him.
“Alesha?” he asked. “What’s going on?”
At that moment, Michaels mother, Yvonne, walked up to them, and gasped.
“Mom?” Michael said, the panic in his voice rising, “what’s going on?”
Yvonne turned to Trisha. “Can you help him?” she asked pleadingly.
Trisha licked her lips. “I have. . . some herbs that might help,” she said.
“What’s going on over here?” Erling said. He walked over to Trisha, and knelt down next to Michael. He took his helmet off inspected the wound.
“Is it bad?” Michael asked.
“I’ve seen worse,” Erling said.
Alesha believed him.
Yvonne turned Erling. “Is there anything you can do?”
Erling sighed. “I’ve got a field kit with some anti-septic bandages,” he said. “That’ll stave off the infection for a few days. But your son needs medicine - the kind they have in the city.”
Trisha rummaged through her bag, and pulled out some dried greens.
“May I see?” Erling asked.
Trisha obliged, and handed Erling some of the greens. He inspected the dried-out leaves. “Tanacetum microphyllum and geranium robertianum.” He handed them back to Trisha. “Good choice.”
She blinked. “We call them Dove’s Foot and Aster,” she said.
“I’ve met a lot of healers over the years,” Erling said. “They all have different names for the various plants, but they all still use them.” He looked to his right. “Ghost?”
The little orb popped up. “Bandages. On it.”
A small metal box with a red cross on it appeared next to Erling. He opened it up, and pulled out some bandages. He handed them to Trisha. “These should help with the infection,” he said. “Apply the herbs, and then wrap up the leg.”
Yvonne looked at Erling fretfully. “Will he make it to the City?” she asked.
Erling handed the bandages over to Trisha. “He’ll be fine,” he said. But he refused to meet Yvonne’s pleading gaze.
Just got flashbacks of Aragorn saying "He needs Elvish medicine" from The Fellowship Of The Ring.
[spoiler][I hope Michael doesn't die, you're good at making compelling characters.[/spoiler]